Making a will is certainly not an exciting prospect, nor one that any of us would really like to entertain. To sit down and arrange matters after your death is to ponder death itself, something we would all like to avoid if possible. However, for anyone with children, money, or anything of value in their life, this process is essential to the happiness of the people you love, in a time when they will be at their most vulnerable.
Why make a will?
Making a will is often quite a morbid proposition and is rarely considered until people approach their late 40’s. This could account for why around two thirds of people in the UK will leave this earth without legally detailing there wishes after death. As unappetising as it might seem, making a will is one of the most essential things that any adult should do and can have major repercussions on emotions between a families or loved ones.
For starters, if you don’t have a will in place when you do kick the bucket, all of your worldly possessions will be divided up after consultation with the Law of Intestacy. This can have drastic repercussions in any many of ways. For example, this law favours close relatives more than anything, so even if you have had a loving relationship with your partner of 20 years, in the event that you are not married your fortune could well be passed on to an estranged sister, of whom you hardly spoke.
This situation is frightfully common and often results in a strained legal battle that takes it toll on both parties. The worst-case scenario is that you die leaving behind no close relatives, in which case your possessions and remaining money are deemed property of the Crown, no matter how influential a friend or loved one had been in your life.
Making a will is not just for the purpose of the dispersion of money and possessions. For anyone who has children, it is the legal document that states who should be declared as their guardian if such a travesty were to occur. As traumatic as this prospect might sound, it’s paramount to lay down who you would like to care for your kids. If you do not assign this responsibility to a willing party, then in the event of no grandparents or relatives ready to accept the burden, then there is every chance that they would be taken into care.
Making a will is also imperative to lay out the immediate details that you wish to be observed after your death. This can stretch from anything as minor as which charity you would like people to donate to at your funeral, to setting up a trust fund for children or grandchildren.
Writing a will
The most important task of this whole process is the actually writing a will, and the first thing you must do is to appoint someone to entrust with this responsibility. Although you can write a will yourself, it is deeply unadvisable due to the excessive legal elements involved and your inexperience in the field. This person will then run through both basic and advanced demands that you wish to carry out. Necessities that will be discussed will be; the dispersion of property, the selection of the guardian (if there are any orphaned children involved) and the formulation of any trust funds.
During the process of actually making a will, is also the juncture where any personal requests will be discussed, in preparation for your demise. This can be a whole host of things, which are individual to each person. Common requests are for particular music to be played at the funeral, the topic of burial or cremation and also charity donations. You will also need to select an executor of the will, who will go about collecting all of your assets and possession ready for division – as this is something that you will not want to burden your family with at such a stressful time.
Changing a will
Finally, events in your life may make you want to change your will. This is often due to a divorce or separation, but can also happen upon a new arrival or change in relationship. In this instance you will need to do one of two things, either make a new will or make a codicil (amendment) to your current will. The latter however can only be used for minor matters such as changing you funeral wishes or installing a different will executor. When writing any new people into your will you will need to start again from scratch.
Changing a will after death
A deed of variation may be used to rewrite the distribution of the deceased’s estate.